Delirium is defined as abrupt loss of attention, disorientation, inability to think clearly and lack of awareness. It might arise in just hours or over several days. The signs might be severe and might come and go.
What is the cause?
It is important to note that delirium is a symptom of another health condition. It can be instigated by something that alters the chemicals in the brain or adjusts the way the brain utilizes oxygen. It can also be triggered by certain drugs being used or a health condition.
Some of the factors that can lead to delirium include:
- High fever
- Infection in the bladder, lungs or kidneys
- Physical changes in the brain from a tumor or stroke
- Lack of sleep
- Drug abuse
What are the characteristics?
The distinctive signs include disorientation and confusion. Take note that if an individual is disoriented, he/she is not aware of the time, date, who he/she is and where he/she is.
Other accompanying symptoms might include:
- Restlessness or agitation
- Difficulty following directions
- Unable to concentrate or pay attention
- Rambling speech
- Unable to remember things
- Sleep issues such as unable to sleep at night and sleepiness during daytime
- Hearing or seeing things that are not there
Management of delirium
The treatment is based on the root cause. Changes in the medications used or treatment for an underlying medical condition can deal with the issue.
In some cases, the treatment might also include the following:
- Safety measures such as being seated always or using restraints in rare instances
- Ensuring a quiet and calm environment
- Assistance with personal care and meals
- Support from family, friends and healthcare providers to help calm and orient the individual
- Hearing aids or glasses if the individual has poor eyesight or hearing